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Drag Race's Anetra Reflects On Fan Reaction To Her Viral Variety Show

Drag Race's Anetra Reflects On Fan Reaction To Her Viral Variety Show

Anetra
MTV

RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Anetra reacts to the overwhelmingly positive ­– and some negative – response to her Variety Show performance during an exclusive interview with PRIDE.

simbernardo

She’s a mother-ducking winner!

Anetra’s Variety Show number at the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 included duck-walking, taekwondo moves, and a fierce original song. This performance resonated with fans so much that it has now become the “most-viewed cross-platform scene ever published to RuPaul’s Drag Race social media accounts with over 13.1 million views across Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube shorts, and Twitter.”

Though she received so much praise and attention for her Variety Show number, Anetra was also the subject of some criticism for the performance’s partial inspiration in ballroom culture. A couple of notable people in both ballroom and reality TV took to social media to share a few comments, but the season 15 star chose not to respond for some time. Overwhelmingly, Anetra’s number has been met with nothing but love and excitement among viewers.

During an exclusive interview with PRIDE, Anetra gushed over the performance going viral, responded to the few criticisms she received, and talked about fans who are sending negativity toward her Drag Race costars.

PRIDE: Had you already been performing your Variety Show song and number prior to RuPaul’s Drag Race or were these things that you came up with specifically for the show?

Anetra: The number I had done once or twice before, just traveling or working in the nightclub… but I had never done it with the song before. The song and everything else were really drafted for Drag Race.

And you have a background in taekwondo, so bash boards were already right up your alley.

Yeah, I did it for 14 years and every three months you go through a testing and examination. And you have to bash boards and sometimes it’s cinder block, and they used to set it on fire sometimes. It was really crazy. I just always thought doing taekwondo or doing a martial art in drag would be really interesting because it’s never been seen before, and it’s something that’s near and dear to my heart. I loved doing it and creating it, and I’m glad that everybody’s receiving it very well.

Going into the Variety Show, I feel like a lot of queens were peacocking around the werk room and saying all these things about their performances…

Say their names! Say their names!

[Laughs] …but you were just being low-key. So I wonder, going into it, were you confident that you were potentially going to be a frontrunner to win the challenge?

I think it’s good to expect nothing and have no expectations. And I feel like, going through Drag Race, I had no expectations for anything. Ariana [Grande] told us on the very first day, ‘Just be present and be in the moment.’ And Salina [EsTitties] actually told me something that stuck with my mind. I don’t know if they’ll show it on camera, but it stuck in my mind so vividly… she was like, ‘Just be where your feet are and don’t worry about the outcome or worry about anything else. Just live in the moment and be present.’

I had a feeling that I could do well because I was bringing something really unique and really special. So I was hoping for a top, but you also can’t have any expectations on the show because you don’t want to be disappointed. And the second you get disappointed and second guess yourself is your downfall, usually. I also didn’t underestimate any of the girls because everybody was really there to compete.

You already knew you had won the challenge when it aired on TV, but you couldn’t foresee the reaction from the fans. We were absolutely obsessed. I had a viewing party at my house and we were all screaming at the television. How did it feel to watch your performance go so viral on social media and have people reacting like this?

I often feel the need to pinch myself. It feels like this isn’t real. Like, ‘No, that can’t be 13 million views. That can’t be a real thing.’ But it’s great. I feel very proud of it. I’m really excited about it. I’ve never had 13 million of nothing, so I'm like, ‘Wow!’

I mean, I think getting on Drag Race, you obviously know that you're going to become ‘famous’ or ‘gay famous’ or whatever you want to call it. So I think you kind of expect a little bit of excitement in that regard, but I don’t know. I just did not expect it to go this far. And I mean, I still wake up to people tagging me in it all day, which I’m so grateful for.

And even in the Snatch Game, we’re still getting references to ‘walk that f*cking duck.’ It’s something that is carrying over throughout the competition. How fun was it to see that RuPaul really lived for what you did and how it became a recurring reference throughout the season?

I remember during filming, she thought it was hilarious. And I was like, ‘Okay, good. I made her laugh.’ And then during the next episode, she was still saying it in the werk room the next day. And I was like, ‘Oh my God. She remembers me. She remembers nobody!’

And then she kept saying it, and it would always excite me because I love RuPaul. She’s everything, and meeting her meant everything to me and then some. Just to hear her say it would always gag me. I had never thought that I was funny, but she thought that I was funny. I kind of thought she was going to get over it, but she never did. She just kept saying it!

It’s basically the ‘Miss Vanjie’ of the season!

Apparently! [Laughs] But there will only be one Vanjie. She is the blueprint.

With so much love and appreciation surrounding your performance, we also got to hear the points of view of people in the ballroom culture. Have you been able to talk to those people about the things they've said?

We haven’t spoken, and I’d like to comment on it, so thank you for bringing it up. We don’t really have a ballroom culture here in Las Vegas. Our gay scene is very small, so there’s no ballroom scene for us to compete in or be a part of. I mean, of course, yeah, we could be traveling to other states where that’s available. But it’s like, ‘Well, we’re local queens and we don’t have money like that to be traveling.’

Luckily, Vegas is a very transient city, so a lot of the people who live in our community are people from other cities – including other communities that have ballroom culture, and I’ve trained and worked with them. Us voguing in the dressing room, I consider it to be a little piece of ballroom. So I don’t know. I feel like a lot of the people who I’ve come up with also have integrated ballroom into their drag.

For me, coming up in my scene, it kind of just feels natural that way. You know what I mean? I have so much respect for the ballroom community, and I know that some people see it as a mockery, which makes me very sad. So I do understand where [trying to protect the culture] comes from. But I’m also thinking about how the challenge was to show your personality, who you are, what kind of drag queen you are. And that’s what I did. I’m a goofy person and that’s it. When you do things that are also comedic, you kind of have to take some risks. I have nothing but respect and high regard for [people in the ballroom scene]. At the end of the day, it’s all love.

Thank you for commenting on that and for being honest about your feelings. I think there was a lot of positivity surrounding the video, but there were also other points of view from people in ballroom. I think it’s great for you to share your thoughts on what happened.

Yeah, I mean, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. We go on Drag Race and we kind of give up our drag and our arts to the masses. We hope that people receive it well. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, so it’s kind of just a part of the game, I guess.

Certain queens from season 15 are getting a lot of backlash online for absolutely no good reason. Is there something you’d like to say to Drag Race fans about how negative comments can impact the queens’ experiences on the show?

Of course. I feel like it would be very beneficial for everybody on all parties just to remember that we’re all human beings and we all watch Drag Race and do Drag Race because we love drag. And that’s it. It’s a TV show and it does have drama. It does have story arcs in it. And obviously, when you have a story arc, it’s not going to be happy all the time. That would be such a boring TV show to watch. We all represent different points of view and that’s totally fine.

I don’t understand why people feel the need to bash queens online. It’s so much easier to not say anything and just go on with your day. On the other side of the screen, that’s a human being and we are painted up under three pounds of makeup and three wigs and everything. We are made up and we don’t look like real people, but we are real people. We’re real people with the same insecurities and feelings that other people have. So I think it’s something that people should think about before they press tweet or send.

What’s next for Anetra now that you have this massive Drag Race platform?

I am open and single. I’m 25 with a pretty good credit score, and a great smile. [Laughs] No, I’m just kidding. First of all, thank you for all of the love [from the fans]. I’m so excited to actually tour and get to meet fans and see the people on the other side of the screen and really have my Drag Race experience start. I’m just very excited.

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 airs Fridays on MTV.

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Bernardo Sim

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Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.